By Paul Kennedy
Plans for a charity match billed as the Battle of the Stars: Messi and Friends vs. The Rest of the World Wednesday night at the Los
Angeles Coliseum were scrapped when promoters sent out word late Tuesday that the event had been canceled.
The promoters immediately blamed Argentine star
Lionel Messi's unwillingness to perform his contractual obligation to participate as the reason the game was canceled.
"After hours of trying to convince Lionel Messi's management
team to fulfill their contractual agreement and come to Los Angeles," said Todd Graham, the CEO of presenting sponsor El Padrino Spirits, "it is clear they have
no respect for these fans and this market. We feel that this is a blatant attempt to defraud American citizens and businesses that sponsored this event."
Other players promoters listed as
anticipated participants included Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, Alex Song,
Javier Mascherano -- all current Barcelona teammates -- plus the likes of Polish star Robert Lewandowski and Mexican
stars Giovani Dos Santos, Gerardo Torrado, Jesus Corona and Marco Fabian. The latter was a curious name since he is in Mexico preparing with the national team for the Gold Cup.
Wednesday's game, plus a second game
Saturday in Chicago, were both listed as sanctioned matches on U.S. Soccer's list of international matches.
Messi and the likes of Neymar played Tuesday night in Lima, Peru, in the second game of the tour. The all-star series kicked off with a game in
Medellin, Colombia, over the weekend. The fate of the match in Chicago was unknown though early Wednesday morning the web site messichicago.com featuring a video
of Messi promoting the game at Soldier Field was still up.
"In all the years I've been doing live events," added Ralina Shaw, the vice president of
public relations for El Padrino Spirits, "I have never encountered a situation like this. It's unfortunate because the only losers in this scenario are the fans that were looking forward to the game,
and the City of Los Angeles."
CONFEDERATIONS CUP VIEWERS. The Brazil-Spain final at the Confederations Cup averaged almost 6 million viewers on
Univision and ESPN. Univision averaged 4 million viewers, while 1,952,000 watched on ESPN.
Univision networks averaged 1.6 million viewers for the tournament’s 16 matches -- up 99
percent from the 2009 tournament (where Mexico did not participate).
UNION EXTENDS TOYOTA DEAL. The Philadelphia Union extended its partnership with
Tri-State Toyota Dealers, making it the MLS club's official and exclusive automobile partner. A Union-themed Toyota Highlander will continue to serve as the club's official promotional vehicle.
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